Wage theft a problem for caregivers, according to advocates

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

September 8, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Members of PAWIS, the Pilipino Association of Workers, and Immigrants gathered at the Filipino Youth Center is San Jose, Calif. to discuss statistics found in their research project concerning wage theft issues Filipino caregivers are facing in Santa Clara County.

The project, entitled CARE, is a community based research project by and for Filipino caregivers who are also part of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Campaign.

“One of the primary surprising statistics — on average the worker, the Filipino worker who filed with the State Labor Commission have on average not been paid $82,000 over a period of three years, so those are hours that they put in at night, all throughout the day, caring for patients, cleaning the house, cooking, that they simply weren’t paid,” said Michael Tayag, community organizer for PAWIS.

PAWIS also celebrated legal victories against employers who were systematically underpaying them for their work in caring for the elderly and disabled persons.

“A lot of caregivers who have approached PAWIS and a lot of caregivers who have approached the community law center here in Santa Clara County have indeed won their cases and it’s not just small cases,” said Tayag. “It’s as much as $60,000, $100,000 in unpaid back wages.

Priscilla Soriano Rangcapan has been a nurse for over 30 years. She has taught nursing for over 15 years in the Philippines before coming to the United States. She found work in the states as a caregiver, but was only paid less than $250 a month, despite her qualifications.

“I’ve been working in a care home and I have to take care of 15 clients alone,” said Rangcapan. “I am not able to do everything. It’s not only appreciated but I am not paid well. That’s the reason I fought for my rights.”

Rangcapan won her case and is awaiting her settlement of over $60,000.

Meanwhile, she is encouraging other Filipino caregivers who are wage theft victims to speak out.

“Don’t be afraid,” said Rangcapan. “Don’t have a fear, because you have the right to say what you really have to say.”

You can contact Rommel Conclara at rommel_conclara@abs-cbn.com and you can follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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